Photo of The Castro, San Francisco

Castro Culture: Growing Up in a Same-Sex Household

The portrait of American families has changed immensely over the past several years. Single parent households or same gendered couples with children are far more common now than they ever were back in the 1980s. Even in a city as progressive as San Francisco, gays and lesbians who had kids were rare. Rachael Garvin recalls a time when she was the only girl in her class with two moms at her Castro District elementary school.

Adopted as an infant by her mom Pam, and later co-raised by Pam’s partner Christine, Rachael grew up in an all woman cooperative. Rachael says, “Some kids called me names like faggot and dyke, but as I got older, that changed.” Slowly, other kids whose parents came out of the closet later in life started to appear in her Duboce Triangle neighborhood.

Both of Rachael’s moms were heavily involved in gay politics and community events. One of her fondest childhood memories is sewing panels together for the AIDS Memorial Quilt that was first displayed in Washington D.C. on October 11, 1987.  “Christine used to take me to the shop and together we’d patch panels with items belonging to the AIDS victims,” Rachel adds.

Rachael is straight and works as a nurse at a Bay Area hospital. Her moms are no longer together but she feels fortunate for having such a great upbringing. She still wonders how Pam made her adoption happen and thanks Pam’s friends for supporting her during the adoption phase.

Last June, during Pride weekend, Rachael was driving on the freeway and caught a glimpse of the pink triangle over Twin Peaks. Her eyes watered as images of her early male role models who died from AIDS, and memories of the whistle she and everyone else in the Castro had to carry filled her mind. For Rachael, San Francisco symbolizes family and overcoming intolerance.

Who is Belo Cipriani?

Belo Cipriani is a staffing professional, the award-winning author of Blind: A Memoir and Midday Dreams, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and the career expert for the Ed Baxter Show on Talk Radio San Francisco 910AM. You are invited to connect with him on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and  YouTube.

Photo: “Castro, San Francisco” by torbakhopper is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Belo Cipriani View more

Belo Cipriani is the award-winning author of Blind: A Memoir and Midday Dreams. He is a disability advocate, a spokesman for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and is currently the national spokesman for 100 Percent Wine -- a premium winery that donates 100 percent of proceeds to nonprofits that help people with disabilities find work.